The season is right around the corner and Auburn’s schedule is expected to be among the toughest in the country in 2016. What’s in store for the Tigers? SEC Country previews Auburn’s four non-conference opponents and provides a prediction for the upcoming season.
2015 record: 2-11, 1-7 Sun Belt
Coach: Matt Viator, 1st year
Returning starters: Offense (8); Defense (3)
Game time: Oct. 1 at TBA
Who to watch for ULM
Quarterback Garrett Smith returns to an offense that struggled to knock off opponents last season, but he at least gets his top two receivers (Ajalen Holley, 709 yards; Marcus Green, 698 yards) and top running back (Ben Luckett, 509 yards) return to the field. Coach Matt Viator, who makes the move from McNeese State, has a big rebuilding job on his hands for a program that has been known as a threat to Power 5 giants in the past (they’ve knocked off Alabama and Arkansas, and nearly upset Auburn once upon a time).
Defensively, there’s not much returning but that might be addition by subtraction. The defense was atrocious last season, tying for 112th in the nation (36.5 points per game). No starters return along the defensive line, so if you want answers and players to watch on the defense, good luck. They also lose who may have been their best player: conference third-teamer Trey Caldwell, a cornerback.
Why Auburn can win
Except for Alabama A&M, this is the easiest game on Auburn’s schedule. Growing pains will be an issue for ULM this upcoming season, even with a returning starter at quarterback.
Auburn 48, ULM 10